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5 Concepts in 4 Paragraphs with 3 Reasons 2 use 1 ActiveEngine Method January 26, 2008

Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Business Processes, Design Patterns, Problem Solving.
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What is Sensei saying? With a title like that you should go to the next blog. NOOO!! This is a challenge to train your mind to use an ActiveEngine method. Why? Because you’ll find the productivity you’ll experience will be liberating. The ActiveEngine method is to state your objectives on 1 piece of paper, in English, with no acronyms, and read it everyday. It may seem underwhelming and obvious but it is rarely done. In the technical fields it is rarer, as quick and sharp thinks many times lack the discipline to keep things clear. So before we run out of paragraphs we better introduce the concepts otherwise Sensei won’t pull this stunt off. The big five are: streamlined communications, the theory of necessary and sufficient, the 80/20 rule, ignorance, and Cesar’s theory of the calm submissive mind.

Streamlining your communication is simple: turn off email except for two times a day, write emails less, and refer people back to your goals and elucidate your objectives and tactics in context of those goals. Probably you could use your one pager. Copy and paste works great with email, so you have to type less. For team projects publish the objectives EVERYWHERE. And, do not use acronyms. English.

The next three concepts – the theory of necessary and sufficient, the 80 / 20 rule, and ignorance – are related. Necessary and sufficient are those things that meet the conditions, only those conditions set forth in your objectives. the corollary questions are: Do you need it, and does it do what it should? A little wisdom will be needed if you are concerned with building software, as sometimes necessary and sufficient can paint you into a corner. But in many cases it will keep you out of the valley of constant re-working your solutions. The 80/20 rule, or Pareto’s Law, is the concept that only approximately 20% of any activity will produce 80% of your results. In other words, most of what we expend our energy on is not aligned with the productive acts that give you results. Both theories are enforced with that sheet of paper we talked about, as the activities you do should only be aligned with those goals. The one pager is the reference sheet for the ground rules regulating what you are working on, and in some cases how you do it. A state of “Ignorance” becomes applicable in that purposefully ignoring those actions, distractions, and musings that do not fall in the 20% category is a strength. If it ain’t on the sheet of paper, it don’t matter.

Finally, a calm submissive state of mind stems from discipline and consistency. Cesar Millan tames unruly dogs by walking them, everyday. This routine establishes order amongst the pack, and readies the dog to be formally trained. So, you need to”walk the project” and review those objectives, get the team members to recite them in their sleep. The benefits to these 5 concepts are clarity of thought, focused energy, and resolve. Imagine this: you bump into the CFO in lobby, and when asked what you are working on and your progress, you’ll have already practiced the answer with the clear, succinctly selected words your whole team has using to describe the project. They will also echo your summary. Your streamlined approach will instill confidence when your superior does not struggle to understand what it is you are describing. You’ll remain on task with the resolve to attain your goals. This will help you keep your job and advance. As promised, Sensei delivered the message: 5-4-3-2-1 you do it too.

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